In 1968 the city of Birmingham made history by holding the first comic book convention in the UK. On Saturday 18th April 2015 it will be doing so again when The Birmingham Comics Festival welcomes the comic book legend that is Ian Kennedy to the heart of the Midlands as a very special guest at its inaugural event.
Ian Kennedy‘s sixty plus career encompasses some of the best loved characters and comics published in Great Britain. To this day he remains the undisputed master of aviation depictions. From his pioneering days on Air Ace and Thriller Picture Library through to Battle Picture Weekly and Warlord, his work has thrilled great-grandparents and their offspring right through to today’s kids who still regularly see the semi-retired octogenarian’s artwork emblazoned across the covers of D.C. Thomson’s Commando title.
Ian Kennedy‘s work can be found within collectors’ copies of The Hotspur, Buster, Wizard, Warlord, Thunder, The Victor, Wildcat, Buddy,Blake’s 7, Thunder, M.A.S.K; Starlord, The Eagle, 2000AD and others. These titles call out like a roll call of the great and good; bestselling comics that often proved to be trailblazing weekly ones in their time. From the likes of Typhoon Tennyson and Battler Britton to Judge Dredd and Dan Dare and oh so many unknown soldiers in between, each character has been delineated with consummate craft by this fine Scottish gent.
From his defining black and white sequential adventures through to his breathtaking acrylic painted covers, there is humanity and heroism captured in equal measures. Ian Kennedy is both an artist’s artist, and one who the Great British public have been reading and collecting from the 1950s to the newsstands of today.
Despite being one of the most revered comic book illustrators of the post-World War period, Ian Kennedy has rarely attended comic book conventions, and even then not south of the Scottish border. “The Birmingham Comics Festival is honoured that Mr Ian Kennedy has warmly agreed to pay the city a visit,” said the festival’s organisers. “We know people will be coming from far and wide to see him to offer their personal thanks for the hours of pleasure his art has given them and their families. The word legend is bandied about too casually these days but Ian Kennedy is truly deserving of that title!”
Air ace artist Ian Kennedy‘s appearance at Edgbaston Cricket Ground on Saturday 18th April 2015 for The Birmingham Comics Festival will be a momentous event and you are cordially invited to have the time of your life by meeting him and the other talented creators and publishers who will be there on the day.”
Ian Kennedy Biography:
In 1949, Ian Kennedy was taken on as a trainee illustrator in the art department of D. C. Thomson & Co; Scotland’s leading publisher of newspapers and periodicals for all-ages, where the former schoolboy’s first published work was inking the black squares on the crossword for The Sunday Post newspaper. He would also attend the Dundee College of Art part-time basis, and eventually, come 1953 begin freelancing for Amalgamated Press (later Fleetway/IPC) drawing for Knockout and the wild west pocket strip book Kit Carson, prior to specialising in illustrating war strips on titles such as Air Ace and Thriller Picture Library. Two years later he was also freelancing for D.C. Thomson, and in the coming decades his work would routinely be found in weekly comics like The Hotspur and the story paper Wizard. The artist having proved popular with readers and editors alike early in his career, with no let-up in sight.
By the 70s there was a science fiction boom on and Ian Kennedy swopped drawing the likes of Jeff Craig Detective in Buster for Ro-Busters and Time Quake in Starlord, and the M.A.C.H.1 and Invasion series, as well as Judge Dredd, for the early 2000AD. He would also illustrate a comic strip based on the TV programme Blake’s 7 for Marvel UK and contribute to Dan Dare annuals, prior to drawing the actual series for The Eagle in the 80s. The Victor, Wildcat, Buddy, Thunder, M.A.S.K and even the girls’ comic Bunty would feature his artwork but he was to solidify his position as a premier war comics artist drawing for IPC’s Battle Picture Weekly and D.C. Thomson’s Commando and Warlord, as well as gathering fans in Scandinavia where his work was published in Fantomen, otherwise known as The Phantom.
During the late 1980s, Kennedy began painting covers for the annual RAF Leuchars Air Show‘s programme, such had become the national recognition of his talent in depicting aviation. Page upon page of artwork that has seen publication and subsequent reprint attests to the many years of service Ian Kennedy has given to the British comics industry and the medium as a whole, over the decades, but even now, in semi-retirement the great artist still produces around 20 covers a year for Commando.
Ian Kennedy will be making an incredibly rare visit south of the border to the heart of the Midlands at Edgbaston Cricket Stadium, as a very special guest for the city of Birmingham’s inaugural Comics Festival on Saturday April 18th 2015.